MotionLab.Berlin – Hardware Innovation Hub & Makerspace

Swobbee – talking hardware

Swobbee

“Mobility is a material, representational process, even if the means of transport and propulsion types change, this will remain the case in the future.”

 

In todays TALKING HARDWARE episode, we are featuring Swobbee.

 

I am happy that Thomas Duscha had the time to answer our questions. 

Have fun reading and leave a comment if you have feedback or questions. 

Give us your 30 seconds elevator pitch. What is it that you are working on? And who are the masterminds behind your company?

Swobbee is the world’s first manufacturer-independent battery charging station with an intermodal approach for the booming micro-mobility sector, i.e. e-bikes, e-cargo bikes, e-scooters, e-kick scooters etc. At a Swobbee station, an empty battery can be exchanged for a full one in a few seconds. The operation of small electric vehicle fleets becomes easier, more comfortable, economical and
environmentally friendly – a big advantage for sharing and logistics fleets as well as for cities and users.

Why did you decide to start working on a hardware idea?

Mobility is a material, representational process, even if the means of transport and propulsion types change, this will remain the case in the future. Swobbee is the answer to a problem that previously did not have a solution. It is exciting to help shape the changes in mobility and develop sustainable forms of mobility.

Why did you choose the city of Berlin to found a company? Do you think the city has an impact of how successful your project will be?

Berlin is without a doubt the best place to implement visionary projects: lots of talented people, openness to new things, an inspiring atmosphere, and short distances to all relevant stakeholders. In any case, all of this contributes to our idea falling on fertile ground. Finally, it is the important industry networks that are based in Berlin and that provide valuable support right from the start.

If you could have one additional skill in your team, who would get it, what would it be and why?

Interesting question. We have grown a lot over the past two years and today we have a fantastic team that brings together the best talent. In this respect, we already have a lot of skills in the company, but maybe we are still missing a passionate cook for the lunch break 😉

What do you want to achieve with your startup apart from getting money and fame?

Even if it sounds pathetic, for me and most of my colleagues it is a real concern to reduce the “footprint” of mobility – the transport sector, with its high greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the main causes and drivers of climate change. We are currently in a historic situation; the change in mobility has started and cannot be stopped, but we can still shape it and ensure that it is really future-proof and sustainable, with solutions that have real benefits. Ultimately it takes a lot of time and energy to build a startup, so it’s nice when you also find your work to be meaningful.

What was your biggest fuck up during your startup career?

The failure of the first company I worked for and then the question “what’s next?” Ultimately, it was a valuable process that taught me a lot.

Which is the part of running a startup, that scares you the most and which is most fun?

Fear is a powerful motivator because it makes us uncomfortable so channel your fear. Seeing people and company grow is the fun part. Ideas getting realized is the most motivating part of a startup.

Would you rather have one real get out of jail free card or a key that opens any door?

Of course, a key that opens all doors … nothing we do should bring us near a prison 🙂

When was the last time you really celebrated a success and what was it about?

Every time we enter a new partnership with a municipality, a company or a location partner, it is a success for us and an important step into the future. Just recently we handed over our battery division to our long-term partner Ansmann, who will in future produce the GreenPack battery under license and develop it independently. We are now fully concentrating on our Swobbee battery swapping solution, which we want to make the central charging station for micro-mobility. That was an important strategic decision, the successful implementation of which we have already initiated.

Why are you at MotionLab.Berlin?

In autumn 2018 we made a conscious decision to use MotionLab as the location for the kick-off event of
our first large Berlin-wide pilot project and a location of a Swobbee station. MotionLab is an inspiring
place for ideas; a place where ideas become reality. We feel that we are in good hands here.

Would you rather have the skills to see 10 minutes into your future or to reset what happened in the last 10 minutes?

See into the future- no doubt about it!

What is your favorite song, that motivates you and brings you through a tough working day?

I love music but never have enough time to listen. „Hate it or love it“ by The Game – one of the most soulish hip hop tracks ever.

What is the current status quo of your company?

As already mentioned, we are now fully concentrating on our battery swapping system. We are firmly
convinced that Battery-as-a-Service will be a key driver of electromobility – Swobbee closes the charging
infrastructure gap in micro-mobility. After successful pilot projects, we are now working with partners to
expand the station network in Germany and Europe – new partners are always welcome!

Are you currently looking for something specific? Investors, specific knowledge or positions?

We are in the fortunate position of having solid funding. To grow in the medium and long term and
develop the full potential of our solution for the booming micro-mobility, we are looking for long-term
strategic partners who share our vision. We are already in talks with potential investors, but other
interested investors are cordially invited to discuss a successful partnership or valuable synergy effects
with us. Our solution is particularly interesting for investors and companies from the automotive, industry
and energy sectors as well as for companies with an extensive branch network, such as petrol station
brands. Battery-as-a-Service is the next big thing, and we’re the leader!

If the 14 year old you would read this interview, what is the one thing you want him to know?

That it pays off to advocate meaningful changes and that we are working to ensure that the world will still be a place worth living in 30 years from now.

When was the last time you got really sick of what you are doing and why?

I ́ve spent too much time with a corporate modeling a business case. Some people in big corporations just
want to keep themselves busy instead of achieving things.

If someone invested 1 million euro in your startup tomorrow, what would you use the money for?

Clearly in the further development of our Swobbee stations. The coming generations will have valuable
new functionalities and, for example, will be able to regenerate. In the future, Swobbee stations will help
stabilize local power grids or serve as a power backup for important facilities. There is no better way to
invest your money.

Anything else?

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